By Florida A&M Sports Information
JACKSONVILLE, FL (Dec.9) – Former FAMU wide receiver Kevin Elliott, now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, made his first NFL start today in a 17-10 loss to the New York Jets. The Orlando native got the nod from coach Mike Mularkey less than 24 hours before the start. A rash of injuries in the receiver corps switched the rookie from understudy to starter just like that. In the end, it was not the performance he wished for, but it was enough to show on this day at Everbank Field, that with a little work and experience, Elliott could be a solid professional player.
Elliott snagged three receptions for 38 yards, including a crucial first down of 22-yards early in the game. He dropped two passes, with one of those clearly a case of he and quarterback Chad Henne not being on the same page. Even the final offensive play of the game for the Jaguars seemed to be clouded in confusion. Elliott broke on an out pattern and was wide open near the goal line, but Henne threw the ball for a corner route. It underscores the work it takes for a quarterback and receiver to get on the same page.
Elliott, squatting on the sidelines after the game with a look of reflection, soon came around with the encouragement of teammates. For a guy that has been used to winning and being the best athlete on the field, the NFL is a new embarkation that will take all of that talent, but more importantly a wealth of mental preparation and repetition.
“It’s always hard when you work hard all the way to the end and you don’t get it done. It’s another week we’ve got to put in the work and go back to the drawing board,” Elliott said.
Former Florida State running back Greg Jones had some encouraging words for Kevin. “He’s got to keep grinding. This game is one of ups and downs. He’s just got to learn to stay focused and when it doesn’t go right, look to the next play,” he said. Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie had similar advice for Elliott. “My first start was against Peyton Manning. He’s one of the greatest passers of all times, so it doesn’t get any more pressure than that. You just really can’t think too much, you’ve just got to go out there and play,” Cromartie concluded.
Elliott, who made the team primarily because of his versatility as a special teams player, maintained his position as the “gunner” on punt team. His athleticism makes him an ideal “gunner” because of his speed, size and knack for finding the ball. The Jets assigned two players to try to prohibit him from getting to the punt returner.
He is a model wide receiver in statue. He stands 6’3″, with a lean 215 pounds and has a 38″ vertical leap. His physical style of play will serve him well in the NFL at receiver, in a league known for it’s bone-crushing hits. The Jaguars are banking on him coming around to being ready to be an everyday position player. Elliott makes the second MEAC player on the Jaguars as Bethune-Cookman defensive back Rasheen Mathis plays there as well.
This isn’t Colonial High School, this isn’t FAMU and this isn’t the MEAC. All of these experiences made him the person he is today, but in this league no one is immune to the hits. It’s a part of the game. On a punt return in the second half, Elliott was caught with a crack-back block by New York’s Bart Scott. Elliott shrugged it off as if it didn’t happen and lined up for the next play. That toughness is what will compliment his abilities during his NFL career.
In the end, even with the tough loss, Elliott managed to smile as he looked to tomorrow. “It’s been a dream and a blessing to be on the Jaguars and in the NFL. At the end of the day, it’s a production league and you have to produce. You have to work hard every day to prove that you deserve to be on this team. It’s been a lot of learning experiences and a lot of firsts this year and it’s definitely a great experience,” he concluded.
Special thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dan Edwards, VP of Communications of the Jaguars for granting us access to this exclusive coverage.